Jérémie Aliadière is remembered by most Arsenal fans as the kid who could never live up to the hype.
Signed as a youth at the age of 16, he spent eight years struggling with the Arsenal club. His time there saw him manage 29 league appearances and only a single league goal, along with a string of loan spells with EPL, SPL and Championship Clubs.
On June 19, 2007 Aliadière signed with Middlesbrough, who at the time was still a premiership team. He endured a bad run with injuries and relegation to Championship football in his three seasons with the club. At the end of the 2010 season after 79 league appearances and 11 league goals, he elected not to extend his contract with the club in search for Premier League football.
The 2010–11 preseason found Aliadière training with West Hampshire and eyeing a permanent move to the Premier League club. During a reserve match with Crystal Palace, he suffered ligament damage to his knee, causing the deal fall through. He spent the first half of the season without a club trying to regain full fitness by overcoming his injury at Middleborough’s rehabilitation and training facilities.
Newcastle’s sale of Andy Carroll and their poor run of injured strikers saw Ameobi and Lovenkrands out, and Aliadière in with a chance for a short-term deal. Unfortunately, the deal did not go through, with Newcastle opting to sign 34-year-old free agent Shefki Kuqi to fill the gap until the summer.
Many Newcastle fans are praising Padrew for opting not to sign the former Arsenal and Middlesbrough striker, but this raises questions about the club's motives.
Why would the club forego signing the former Clairefontaine Football Academy star, who was ranked one of the three best strikers to come out of the academy in the past 10 years?
This prestigious academy has developed some of France’s great upcoming footballers with the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, William Gallas, Abou Diaby, Jimmy Briand, Hatem Ben Arfa and many more.
If you compare Aliadière and Kuqi, you see two completely different players.
Aliadière is a very quick, intelligent, technical and diverse player; on the other hand, Kuqi is a player with great strength, but lacks pace, technique and is considered a very one-dimensional forward. Doesn’t Newcastle already have the one-dimensional Leon Best, who also possesses a greater finish and greater speed?
A lot of people will read this and say, "Look at Aliadière's stats! He has played 128 league games and only scored 14 goals." But don't forget besides being injured during his spell at Arsenal, he was also competing for a spot against Henry, Van Persie, Bergkamp and Wiltord. His run at Middlesbrough saw him score against the Arsenal twice and once against Manchester United, despite being seven years younger than Kuqi. Aliadière is a player who has a lot more to give to a club like Newcastle then a veteran like Kuqi.
Padrew's reasons behind signing Kuqi are due to him being much closer to match fit, but something tells me a player who has one more shot at EPL game time has much lower wage demands than a gifted 27-year-old who, when fit, could easily feature in most Premier League sides' starting lineups. Mike Ashley is renowned for being extremely cheap when it comes to spending money on his own club. Let's be honest, we know Carroll’s money won't be used in the summer to build a better side.
So if you were the gaffer and had an option to sign Jérémie Aliadière or Shefki Kuqi, who would it be? Who is capable of offering your team more?